Underutilisation of development funds for SCs and STs gives fillip to forced migration
The Uttarakhand government has a separate monetary provision “aimed to uplift” the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) but the dedicated funds meant for development in areas inhabited by them, remain underutilised, failing to stem migrationdehradun Updated: Feb 13, 2018 21:25 IST
The Uttarakhand government has a separate monetary provision “aimed to uplift” the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) but the dedicated funds meant for development in areas inhabited by them, remain underutilised, failing to stem migration.
The underutilisation of funds released every year is affecting the growth prospects of the SCs and STs who constitute 22% of the state’s population of more than a crore.
State social welfare minister Yashpal Arya admitted that the underutilisation of funds was a concern. “It is worrisome because the dedicated funds are meant for the uplift of a society that is still economically backward and is, therefore, badly in need of development,” he said, adding that all possible steps are being taken to ensure the fund meant for the poor is untilised in full.
Arya also admitted that underutilisation of the dedicated funds is affecting the infrastructural growth in tribal areas, most of which are along the state’s border with Nepal and China.
“The improper infrastructural growth in the border areas inconveniences the tribes people, leading to forced migration as is the case in other non-tribal areas,” said social activist and former bureaucrat Surendra Singh Pangety.
The border areas are inhabited by five local tribes people—the Tharus, Buksas, Jaunsaris, Bhotias and Vanravats.
“We need to focus on development in the border areas as people are leaving the region due to underdevelopment, which can pose a threat to the country’s security,” he said.
Arya said proper utilisation of the dedicated funds can help in checking the forced migration from the SC and ST-dominated areas.
The funds are released under the Schedule Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) and the Scheduled Tribe Sub Plan (STP).
Data shows that the funds mostly remain underutilised.
Date of utilisation of funds allocated under the SCSP show that out of the total budget of Rs 646.68 crore released under the SCSP in 2017-18, the expenditure until December, was ₹329.14 crore, which is 51.02% of the total released amount.
The department of social welfare is yet to receive the latest figures of expenditure.
In 2016-17, the total expenditure against the released budget of ₹ 859 crore was ₹646.11 crore, which is 75.14% of the allocated fund.
In 2015-16, more than 20% of the released budget of ₹889.40 crore could not be utilised and lapsed. Expenditure figures suggest that on an average 15% to 20% of the total released budget could not be utilised from 2004-2005 onwards.
Data show similar expenditures against the TSP allocations. In 2017-18, only 59.25% of expenditure has been reported until now against the released budget of ₹ 225.41 crore.
In 2016-17, only 20% of the total released budget of ₹ 283.72% could be spent.
The figures project 2005-2006, as the only fiscal when the expenditure came to a maximum 104.21% of the total released fund of ₹70.56 crore. The remaining data show that on an average 15-20% of the total fund released could not be spent from the fiscal 2004-2005 onwards.
Arya said that lack of effective monitoring by officials and politicians in power was the reason for the underutilisation of funds.
“I would not like to comment on what went wrong in the past,” he said when asked to elaborate on the reasons behind the underutilisation of funds under the twin heads.
“We have, however, directed officials to provide us the details of underutilised funds, so we can ensure it is fully utilised.”
Pangety said the underutilisation of funds meant for the SCs and STs also leads to corruption. “It leads to corruption as most of the funds are spent when the fiscal year comes to an end.”